Friday, January 31, 2014


It's January in Southern California, and do you know what that means?  It means: BABIES!  Well, little sproutlings, to be exact.  My little veggie nursery is doing well.  Only eleven days after planting, I have several tomatoes and a few squashes popping up.  I'm still awaiting the peppers, but I'm not worried.  Neither the seeds I pulled from the last pepper we had, nor the brand new seeds from Mike the Gardener ( have sprouted yet.  I'm thinking any day now...

I'm especially excited about these little guys!  There are two reasons:  #1 - These are the best tomatoes in the world.  Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter!!!!  They are huge, and fleshy, a really nice pink color (not red) and sooooooo yummy.  #2 - These little sproutlings are from seeds that I fermented and saved from last year.  2nd generation!  I count that as a small success.  I may have lost that mama plant to blight and pests last summer, but she lives on...  maybe it's a big success, especially if all ten little sproutlings become full grown plants. 

I also have some other tomatoes that I'm growing from seed.  They are "Delicious" variety, and came in my Mike the Gardener package a couple of months ago.  I've never heard of them, but I'm giving them a try. 

This is what they look like.   It's a new variety for me, but they are germinating at about 75% right now, and I'm hopeful that I'll have some success with those as well. 

I also have some yellow heirloom tomato seeds that I saved from last year.  I'm going to plant them in my next batch, once I get these babies moved into pots.  The large yellows were delicious mixed in with the Mortgage Lifters, and drizzled with some balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

I'm drooling just thinking about it. 

 This is my collection of seeds so far.  Some I am really excited about, like the Kohlrabi, the tomatoes, squash, sunflowers, Kale and onions...  some not so much, like the brussel sprouts.  I don't really want to eat them, so I'm not too excited about growing them.  There are some flowers in there too...  and I'm thinking about planting a bed in the yard dedicated just to flowers.  I have a lot of work, and a lot of planning to do still.  Thank goodness I still have about eight weeks until planting  starts. 

Yes, I said it.  EIGHT WEEKS.  That puts us at the end of March.  For anyone outside of Southern California and Florida, you're probably thinking that's nuts, but I assure you, it's not.  By August, we're frying here, and it's extremely difficult to keep the garden going.  So we have to push earlier into spring, when our temps are consistently in the 70's. 

It will be here before we know it!  I need to get The Guy started on those new garden boxes!!!
More to come.
Green Thumb Out.  :)

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Girl & Guy's Class of 2014

It's a new year, and one of my goals for 2014 was to update this blog more frequently. 

We're so fortunate to live in Southern California where gardening is a year round activity.  In Southeastern Pennsylvania, where we used to live, we'd spend from October to April dreaming about gardening, planning for gardening, and thinking about gardening, but not actually gardening.  Our planting date was May 15.  May 15!!!!  Here in So. Cal, my season is almost over by then!!!! 

In September, the Guy built me some really lovely raised planter boxes, and we placed them on top of an old picnic table and benches so that they are up off the ground, and this old body doesn't have to bend over to get to them.  We've had Kale, Collards, Mustard, Corn Salad, Radishes, Beets, Carrots and Kohlrabi growing all winter.  It's fun to keep up with.  It's interesting though, that in the cooler weather everything grows very sloooooooooowly.  It's all very healthy and looks great, it's just taking it's time. 

We've even hooked up a watering system for these boxes, and with a quick twist of the water spigot and a 5 minute timer, it all gets watered with minimal effort from me.  It's a win/win. 

I joined the "Seeds of the Month Club" this year, (* and it's been fun to see what gets sent out each month.  It's roughly $3.00 a month, and Gardener Mike sends out four packets of seeds each month, tailored to the zone that you live in and what you can get started, if you're in an area that can plant year round.  If not, I guess he stocks you up each month.  I started in September, and I have a nice variety of veggies and herb seed packets.  Some of them are in my garden boxes, and some are waiting for summer time, just because space doesn't allow for all of it right now. 
The Guy is going to build four more of these boxes, and we're going to put in a garden over there by the fence, right over the Pipsqueak's shoulder.  A little bit of fencing to keep The Trampler and the Fuzzy Digger out and we're golden.  I think this new location will allow for more air flow and more control of water and light.  I think that the side of the house that we used last year just didn't have enough light or air flow, since it was wedged in between the house and the block wall.  Also, everything was in pots last year, and I am eager to see how it will be different planting in garden boxes instead.  I have a feeling that we will have more success with "the ground" vs. "the pot".
So, on to the Class of 2014!  We have had some absolutely wonderful backyard weather.  That, of course, is a positive spin on things, because we have had high temperatures, low humidity and absolutely NO RAIN, which is creating a terrible drought for Southern California.  There are murmurs of water rationing coming soon, and reports that if it doesn't let up, food prices are going to soar because local farmers are losing their crops and water prices will go up.  So, if that's all going to happen, then I really need to get crackin at growing my own food.  Water rationing?  Fine, I won't water the grass, but I will water the vegetables! 
I saw the tomato plants at Home Depot, and I couldn't resist...  yes, I know that I joined the seeds of the month club so I wouldn't have to buy stuff...  but like I said, I couldn't resist.  They were calling me!  And so, without further delay, I introduce you to (the beginnings of) the class of 2014:
That's an Early Girl, a Supersweet 100, and a Bush Goliath.  Yes, they are Hybrids.  No, I did not grow them from seed.  I know, I know...  but truly, I thought that a couple of Hybrids might be a good thing this year.  Last year between blight, blossom rot, and pests, remember what happened to my beautiful tomato forest?  Hybrids are a bit hardier and more resistant to disease.  The Bush Goliath is a determinate variety.  What's the difference between determinate and indeterminate?  Well, according to Organic
"The most simple explanation of the difference between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes is that determinate tomatoes bear their crop all at once, while indeterminate tomatoes bear fruit over the course of a season. Indeterminate varieties tend to grow longer vines and will require more support in terms of staking or caging over the course of a season. Determinate varieties often (but not always) tend to be more compact and manageable."
So I'm thinking I may stagger a few determinate tomato plants in the garden this year.  If they produce and then die back, I might even get several yields from the same pot, depending on the time frame.  I've never done it before.  I like the idea that they don't send out those super long tentacles that interweave all of the plants together.  I like the idea of a compact tomato plant.  It might just be my new favorite!!!  We shall see.  That's what's fun about gardening.  Experimenting! 
There's one other newbie that I want to introduce to you, because I have quite a few in different growing stages, so I think they are going to be around a while.  Kohlrabi.  Yum-o.  Kohlrabi has bulbs that grow above ground.  You can slice them up and eat them in slaw, or put them in salads.  They have the consistency of a carrot and taste sort of like broccoli stems, but really, they are delicious.  I got my first taste of Kohlrabi when I belonged to a crop share association in Pennsylvania.  I've been hooked since.  These were grown from seed in my garden beds, and I can't wait to eat them!!!  They still have a little ways to go.  They will grow to be a bit smaller than a tennis ball.  Right now they are about the size of a golf ball. 
Aren't they beautiful?  I just love them.  The leaves are big and beautiful, and they just look so healthy and happy.  I have four growing in this garden square and several seedlings in other squares.  Hopefully we're going to have a great yield soon. 
Well, that's the start of this years' obsession.  The thumb is feeling mighty green again.
See you soon, gardeners!
Green Thumb Out
*If you think "Wow, that Seeds of the Month Club sounds great, I think I'll join!" Please, please contact me first.  If I give you a referral code that you reference when you join, I get a free year.  That would be so nice!!!